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The Test of Life

Thursday, January 28, 2016

When I left college, I walked across that stage with my degree in hand thinking, I'll never have to study again.  Good bye piles of books, sleepless nights, and tests.  Hello freedom of adulthood...

It's been seven years since I graduated but here I am with my piles of books, experiencing sleepless nights [thanks kids], and daily taking the test of life.  Unlike sitting in a room with a pencil and paper, life's tests are more subtle.  In fact, I don't even know I'm taking them unless I'm paying attention.  Graduation isn't at stake, but the future of my life; my marriage, the kids, finances, career, and my own personal well being.  Life is full of tests and whether I choose to study for them is up to me.  


I'm not an expert in any of these areas, but thankfully there are many men and women who are.  They've come before me, and have graciously taken the time to share their knowledge in whatever test I'm facing. These book have become my classroom, the authors are my teachers preparing me for my future. I've learned how to use ultimate study guide for life taught by the best teacher I know. God's word has been the most relevant information for helping me with each test I face.  

I came into post college life knowing nothing about finances, but Dave Ramsey's Extreme Money Makeover was there to guide us.  Marriage is a test full of pop quizzes but Love and Respect taught me a lot.  Not only about us but myself.  I learned how to pray for him with The Power of a Praying Wife.  The most difficult class by far is parenting.  Loving Your Kids on Purpose is one I've kept coming back to.  And some have touched the wounds in my own heart, What a Difference a Daddy Makes. 

Life is full of tests and until graduation day, I'll pass some and fail some.  But until I reach that day, I will never stop learning.  Never stop growing. 

The Sport-It Fitness Ring

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pregnancy weight.  Enough said.  Like most women, I indulged in every treat and told myself I was eating for two.  I put on the pounds and like most women it did not just melt off.  After getting cleared, I worked hard to fit back into my old jeans and tone those muscles back into shape.  [After baby one, almost due with baby 2, and now].  One of the workouts on my regiment was Pilates.

I love Pilates and Yoga because it's low impact and doesn't leave me feeling like I'm about to die.  I am not the biggest fan of cardio.  Equipment can be pretty pricey so I was excited to find o there was an alternative that would enhance resistance for better results.  Say hello to the Sport-it Fitness ring.  

I love this ring because it's compact, lightweight, effective and a great way to maximize results with the resistance.  

At some point in my life I may end up like my mother in law who can find any opportunity for a "work out" because all I could think of when I was doing the chest squeeze was I could do this while I am watching TV or just hanging out with the kids.  Ha! 

The hundred is a norm for Pilates routine but the ring made it way more intense!  You press your legs against the edges of the rings and pump your arms.  You can also lift and lower your legs while in the ring to get a good workout to the lower abdomen. 

A more intense alternative to leg lifts is placing the ring in between  your ankles and slowly lowering your ankle.  A great way to tone the inner thighs.

The Sport-It Fitness ring is a great addition to any workout and to my little home gym.  It's a great way to add extra resistance and stabilize certain workout moves.  Adding resistance will help avoid plateaus and can make your workouts shorter without compromising on results.  You can get the Sport-It Fitness ring on Amazon HERE

I received a discount on this product for my review of it. 

Purpose in Every Season

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Life is a series of seasons.... 

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death, 
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:2-8

I've experienced these seasons as I am sure you have.  I season of crazy insane college busy, a season to be a newlywed and enjoy one another, a season of chaotic newborn bliss, a season of goodbyes and hellos.  Life is a series of seasons and I've learned that no matter how difficult or enjoyable the season, embrace it and learn from it.  

I've recently come out of a very busy season of go go go.  I was working, writing, dreaming, doing, building.  I was making things happen and it seems almost as if it came to a halt in a day.   My heart wasn't in the hustle.  I know during that time God was doing something.  He was giving me confidence.  He showed me that I can.  I learned my purpose.  Our relationship grew.  I dreamed big dreams.  It was a time to learn, a time to grow.  I am so grateful for that time.  It was a time for growth.   

I'm currently putting some goals and projects to the side and am moving into being a home maker [and writer].  

For the last year, I've wanted to craft but just haven't felt motivated or inspired.  I kept praying and asking God to give me that feeling, the urge again.  That passion.  I need that to create and it took this little girl wanting a sewing machine this December to inspire me once again.  I unplugged in December and really dug deep, sought out what direction to go and I got my answer.  This year is my year to embrace being the stay at home... enjoy cooking, cleaning, crafting, and just gobble up all the time with the kids.  One of the dreams on my dream sheet is to have a beautiful home and I have been getting the urge to decorate [which hardly happens].  

In this time, God is showing me something.  He's showing me that the dreams that I have will come, but not in this time.  He's showing me to be patient.  The goodness of slow and steady.  He's showing me how to be faithful in the little things.  How to live with less. To honor my husband and have a renewed joy in serving that handsome stud.  He's shown me that my home is a blessing not a burden, I am the steward.  

Life is a series of seasons that allows opportunities for growth.  What season are you in right now?  What is God showing you in this time?  How are you growing?  If you're in a difficult time, whatever it is, ask God to bring you out of it.  Ask him to show you how you can move forward.  

Until next time. Toodles! 




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Less Busy More Fruitful

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My new year isn't just about cleaning up the house, but also my attitude and temper.  Yup, I confess that I am short fused and when things don't go my way, I get in a funk.  Sometimes I have a hard time being grateful and seeing the good because I'm so busy complaining and having a bad attitude.  I know it's an issue that doesn't change over night and will take time and effort.  It's an issue that God has been helping me work though.  

Everyday, I've been writing little nuggets from my devotionals to reflect on from my study on Numbers and Battlefield of the Mind.  Last weeks simple statement really hit home for me.

"God didn't call us to be busy but fruitful." 

 I know you must be thinking, what does that have to do with having a better attitude?  
God showed me that "busy" fuels my crazy.  When I am "busy" doing everything, it usually means I am also not taking care of myself, I'm losing sleep because there aren't enough hours in the day,  I'm so stressed because there is so much too do.  I'm the type of person who can't stop moving and can't stop going.... busy, busy, busy.  Busy is my kryptonite. 


BUT God is not calling me to be busy, to take on everything and do everything.  He is calling me to be fruitful.  I want to focus my time doing things that help me to fulfill my purpose.  Focus on my priorities and to do them well.

1. Make time everyday to for Jesus.  Preferably the morning.
2.  Time to the hubby, the kiddos, family, friends. 
3. Keep the house clean. 
4. Write more.  Read more. Listen more [I'm a podcast junkie]
5. Take care of me: eat right and workout
6.  Craft and craft some more

  When I pile on tasks, projects, this and that I get so exhausted and so overwhelmed.  Lack of sleep equates to rudeness.  Stress brings on the complaining.  With every task or decision  I've consciously been asking myself is this task or project busy or is it fruitful. 

And I'll end on these two final little nuggets from the week:

"Let your home be your parish, your little brood, your congregation, your living room a sanctuary, and your knee a sacred altar."

"A miserable heart means a miserable life.  A cheerful heart fills the day with song."

Have a wonderful week everyone!  May you be less busy and more fruitful.  


Operation Clean House

Friday, January 8, 2016

Every year I make a new year’s resolution like I'm sure all of you do.  I want to spend lots of time with Jesus, the kids, the hubby, make stuff, exercise, get enough sleep, eat right.... you get the idea.  But the purpose of my yearly resolution is to push to make a change in an area I struggle with. 

SO this year's resolution is keeping the house clean and joyfully doing so.

As I was thinking about 2015, the number one thing that stressed me out was our messy house.  I don't know why, I wish it didn't, but it does.  It puts me in a bad mood and I always feel unable to do anything else unless the house is clean.  A clean, uncluttered, tidy home.  I'm not expecting it to look like a crew of cleaners came in every week, because let’s face it, I have kids.  And I get it, kids are a great excuse for a messy cluttered house but I want our home to be tidy enough [most of the time] that it is acceptable for visitors.  

I've learned that in order to tackle a resolution you MUST track and you must plan.  Here is what I came up with and you can apply these steps to your own resolution. 

PHASE 1
Assess the Mess
What is your starting point?  

I assessed my house last year and decided that we have too much stuff, which equals cluttered.  Too many toys, too many books, too many kitchen items, too many clothes.  All the stuff everywhere cramped in every nook.  If it hasn't been used in 6 months to a year it has been going to donations.  Letting go of the.... one day I will use it.  I've cut down the kids toys and books to half the amount in the last few months and they haven't even noticed.  This week with my sissys help we put together a nice work space for the kids and I [more on this Ikea inspired space another time.]

PHASE 2 
Track It
What will you keep track of to help you accomplish your goal?

One big lesson I learned from The Compound Effect is that successful people are trackers.  I always feel like I spend all day cleaning, which leads to complaining.  Since the year has started I have calculated the amount of time I spend cleaning and it isn't all day.  It is about 1-2 hours a day and 3-4 hours on Saturday. Woah!  Reality check!   Realizing that I wasn't spending all day cleaning has really put a stop to the complaining.  How can I complain about a messy house that I am not cleaning? 

I did the math too.  Last month, our in laws were so awesome to hire cleaning ladies to come tidy up after they left [talk about the best gift ever] and I calculated it.  It took them 8 hours uninterrupted to make our home sparkle.  Add in 3 to 4 hours it takes me to do laundry and in order to have a tidy home I need to clock in 11-12 hours a week cleaning.  Not unreasonable, especially if I have help. 

I've also started tracking what gets done thanks to this printout I found online.  Laminated it so I can use it every day.  Kids have chore sheets right?!  Why not us?

Tracking also means calculating who is contributing.  Everyone lives in the house so everyone should help clean it.  Tracking is essential to successfully accomplishing a goal. 

PHASE 3
Have a Plan
Write out step by step what you will do. 

You can't accomplish a goal without a plan.  My plan is pretty simple.  Clean 1-2 hours a day [12-13 hours a week], do one load of laundry a day, and on the weekends get help from the hubby.  I'm going to keep tracking and hopefully in the next few months create a habit and a system.  Hopefully.  

RECAP THREE STEPS
So this three step plan to Assess, Track it, Have a Plan will work on almost any resolution.  Here are some of my past resolutions....

 Want to get healthy?  Assess your eating, workout routine, habits.  Track what you are doing.  Make a plan to improve eating, when you will work out, what you will stop doing!  

Want to spend time doing a devotional?  Assess what time of day is best, what kind of devotional, how much time do you have?  Track when your quiet moments are in the day.  Write out the time and day you plan on doing your devotionals.  Will you wake up before everyone else? 

Want to stay in touch with friends? Assess what friends do you want to stay in contact with?  How often will you be in contact with them?  Track how often you talk to them a week/a month and how.  Plan when you will make this happen.  Write out the date and time in your planner to call or write.

I know that keeping a clean house sounds like a silly resolution, but it's the one thing I really struggled keeping up with last year.  I know having a tidy home makes me feel better, it makes my husband happy, and yup even the kids.  They play with their toys more and don't have to deal with a mom in a bad mood.  

Maybe next year I'll make it my resolution to not let a messy house bother me.  HA!  What's your resolution this year? 

Burt's Bees Lipstick for any Occasion

Monday, January 4, 2016

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Burt’s Bees for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

There was a time in my teen years when it didn't matter what kind of makeup I purchased.  The only rule of thumb was the cheapest was the one I bought.  But now I know better.  Ingredients matter, quality matters, and I have my own personal tastes and preferences.  I am still reasonable about price and I do love a good deal but when it comes to lips, I'm particular.  I don't like lip products that have a strange smell or taste.  I must have one with natural ingredients because whether I like it or not, that lip product is going in my mouth.  I don’t want any strange ingredient going in my mouth and into my body.  

That's why I love Burt's Bees new 100% Natural Lipstick.  It’s only $8.99 so it won’t break the bank or make me feel guilty for buying it.  The big plus is it is made from ingredients I can actually pronounce, like Beeswax Moringa Oil and Raspberry Seed Oil.  Fun fact is Moringa oil is full of essential fatty acids that helps keep your skin soft and Raspberry seed actually helps improve skin elasticity.  Who wouldn’t want that in their lip sticks?  Burt's Bees Lipstick has the pretty color of a lipstick but feels like a chap stick.  It keeps my lips soft all day and I love the smooth satin finish.  It doesn't have that strange taste or smell.  It looks so pretty  and how adorable is the with the little honey comb print.

I found it when I was strolling the makeup aisle at Target.  My sister and I love Burts Bees and it was a sweet surprise to see the new lipstick line.  The first one I bought was the Iced Iris just so I can wear it every day.  It's the color I'm wearing in the picture above.  And special bonus, there is a 30% off coupon on Target Cartwheel for the lipstick! 
  Iced Iris is the perfect shade to wear out and about running errands or even at the gym.   Yes, I am that crazy lady who wears make-up when I work out.  But I love that there is a shade for every occasion because you know my lips don't go nude on date nights. 

There are 14 different versatile shades and something to wear for every occasion.   The color shades vary from light to dark.  The Scarlet Soaked is probably my second favorite!  Such a deep and pretty color.  I’m also loving the Magenta Rush. 
 
So many options!  Which is your favorite?
I know it may sound silly but I love wearing lipstick.  It makes me feel so pretty.   The right color is the perfect accent to any cute outfit but can also brighten up your whole face.  You can find all the shades in the make up section Available at Target.
And speaking of skin, while we were roaming the makeup aisle we also noticed that Burt’s Bees has a New BB Cream!  

I can’t live life without my BB.  It helps even my skin tone, especially since I have a few splotches on my cheek area.  It reduces those wrinkles the kids have started giving me and helps to conceal the dark circles.  A lot of times I just wear a BB cream without foundation.  It’s become part of my face care routine.  The Burt’s Bees BB Cream comes in light, medium, and dark.
What is your must have cannot leave the house make up item? 
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Wishes Delivered through UPS

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of UPS for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
The generosity and hearts of people around me this year have been so inspiring.  This year, my husband's coworker sent home a small slip of paper with him that turned into a great way for our family to give back.  He was joining his church in their wish that every child would have a gift this holiday day season.  They were filling shoe boxes to be sent off to impoverished countries filled with toys and hygiene items for kids. 
We joined in and created our own box with the kids.  Our wish is that every child have a box that would give them joy.  It was a lesson for my four year old who can't fully grasp how someone can have nothing.  She's grown up with all her needs met and more.  At first she was sour about having to get a present for someone she didn't know and nothing for herself, but once we started picking out items her attitude changed.  There is something about giving that changes your heart.  It allows empathy to enter and gives you an opportunity to think about someone else.  We sent our box to the head quarters where it will be delivered to a child in need.  Our wish was delivered for someone.  
This holiday season UPS is also spreading those wishes.  By sharing our wish on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #WishesDelivered, they are donating $1 one of their partner charities (Boys & Girls Club of America, World Food Programme, Toys for Tots Literacy Program, The Salvation Army, The UN Refugee Agency) They've also celebrated regular people who have made it their mission to spread love and joy to others.  Leslye is a beautiful woman who creates comfort scarves to donate to women's shelters.  This video truly touched my heart!  A UPS #WishesDelivered!
What is your wish for someone else his holiday season?  A dollar will be donated for every wish and photo wish shared with the hashtag #WishesDelivered!  This is a simple and great cause for anyone to join in.  What’s your wish?  Share it today on the  #WishesDelivered Site
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